During the coming weeks, I will continue to discuss some of the most important legislation passed during the 2011 Session of the General Assembly. This article is about illegal immigration and sex trafficking — two subjects for which Georgia is becoming infamous — and solar energy.
Illegal Immigration supporters generated the largest lobbying e-mail bombardment I have witnessed during my 11 years in the General Assembly.
Even now I continue to receive mail asking me to urge the Governor not to sign HB 87.
The liberal media continue to berate and belittle legislators for attempting to bring illegal immigration under control.
Recently, the Pew Center determined that Georgia’s illegal immigrant population ranks as the seventh largest in the nation.
Other independent analysis have estimated Georgia’s illegal immigration burden at $2.4 billion dollars a year to its legal taxpayers (combined expenses in education, healthcare and law enforcement and corrections).
These staggering numbers necessitate action to prevent further damage to our state government’s financial stability.
HB 87 is based on three fundamental principles:
1. Businesses that hire only employees who have a legal right to work in this state. U.S. citizens and legal immigrants should not have to compete with businesses that cheat and hire folks that do not;
2. Individuals who have a right to work in this state should not have to compete for scarce jobs with folks who do not; and
3. If you are suspected of having committed a crime and the police cannot determine your identity, they can check your immigration status.
The principles are accomplished by requiring employers to verify the eligibility status of employees at the time of hiring using the federal E-Verify system.
HB 87 also provides police officers the tools and the assurances they need to combat the growing illegal immigration problem.
Lastly, it provides greater incentives to peace officer agencies to participate in federal partnerships that are designed to identify and transfer those that have entered our country illegally.
As always, I support legal immigration and welcome those who have entered our country legally. I will continue to fight against illegal immigration and the harm it brings with it.
A tragic by-product of our state’s growth has been that Georgia has become a national hub for human trafficking, particularly trafficking in young people for sex crimes.
The victims are coerced or deceived into sexual servitude by the use of drugs, physical violence, mental abuse and threats.
Recent raids have uncovered numerous prostitution rings using illegally imported females.
These women and underage girls were supposedly imported for marriage to men from their home countries; instead, they were forced into prostitution.
A center of human trafficking is not something for which Georgia wants to be known. It was time for the Legislature to act.
HB 200 is the result of a cooperative effort between the Legislature, the Attorney General, the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, local prosecutors and law enforcement, social service agencies and a wide array of religious organizations.
The bill clarifies what constitutes the offense of human trafficking, toughens the penalties for those who engage in it, and provides a compassionate pathway out for those victims caught in its dark web.
Finally, it provides educational avenues to police officers for training in the identification and understanding of this horrific type of criminal behavior.
This past week, I participated in a “ribbon cutting” (actually a power cord cutting) ceremony at DataScan Technologies in Forsyth County. They have installed one of the largest commercial roof-top solar arrays in Georgia.
The solar energy will produce enough electricity to offset DataScan’s energy use, comparable to the electricity used by 25 residential homes.
With government incentives, the payback period is only seven years, but the system has a 25-year guarantee.
The system can withstand 130 mph winds and golf ball-sized hail.
Best of all, it was manufactured right here in Georgia.
The installation, and similar ones throughout Georgia, will provide new jobs for Georgians and help move us toward energy independence and a healthier environment.
Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; phone (706) 864-6589; e-mail email@example.com. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.